The wonderful story from yesterday's Derby was not only Doug O'Neill getting his first Derby win, but for Mario Gutierrez showing all the jockey's out there that with hard work and a good agent you can make it out of the small tracks (Hastings) and hit the big time. He rode the perfect race yesterday, getting I'll Have Another in the right place off the pace, clear of trouble and then laid into the third lane and ran down an impressive Bodemeister. Regardless what happens in two weeks at Pimlico, Mario's future looks bright!
The only major race on the schedule today is at Woodbine and it's the 58th running of The Vigil (G3) for 4YO and upwards, sprinting 7 panels for $150,000 over the synthetic surface. A field of seven has entered and many of them have been up against each other last season. It's a hard knocking crowd, with plenty of speed, and most are making second starts off a layoff, that makes it interesting.
#2 Paso Doble ML 5/2
This 6YO gelding of Mark Casse had a nice debut in 2012, finishing third to Essence Hit Man (the favorite today) in the Cartier ($168K). His past performances show he really fires his best efforts on the second off a layoff, and his bullet workouts would support that pattern. His stalking style fits well here with three front runners, he should be poised to win his first graded event. The Casse/Husbands connection wins 27% of the time, and Husbands is red hot right now.
#5 Essence Hit Man ML 7/5
He is the superior speed in this race and has two wins in a row to show for it. His recent effort in the Cartier ($168K) was stunning, posting a 104 Beyer. There is little doubt he will get out on the front and take off, the question is, are there others that will make him earn it today? There might be in #1 and #3 and that could make him vulnerable. If there is any nit picking to do, it's that he is inconsistent winning off a layoff and sometimes he gets beat on his second off of one. He'll be tough to beat today, but looking for some of that inconsistent pattern to show itself.
#7 Signature Red ML 6/1
He'll be making his 5YO debut today and has always been in the hunt in every race. Has won at this distance twice in five attempts here at Woodbine, and has won a G2 event (Highlander). He has shown flashes of great speed, likes to press the pace which is a nice set up for this race. Workouts have been crisp and Contreras rides him well. The big issue does he break cleanly? His history shows some wonky breaks from the gate, if he get's of sound then watch out he could run down the speed in this one.
# Bear Tough Tiger ML 4/1
This lightly raced 4YO won his debut in 2012 and that makes him four of five overall. His only loss was at this distance but he still posted his best Beyer of 96. Today he takes a big step forward moving up to stakes company. His works have been sharp, Reade Baker excels in these situations and Quincy Welch is three for three when in the irons. I prefer horses moving up in class off a win, and his past shows a big improvement with his second effort. He is my money pick today.
# Something Extra ML 12/1
This 4YO is more of angle play today, having won two of three at this distance at Woodbine. I'm going to toss out the effort in the Cartier ($168K) for he was blocked late and never seemed to be in the race. He will get out early and be part of the speed in this one. His speed in the past would say not today, but in the Cartier he really showed improvement regardless of the situation. I would think that improvement would continue today. Gail Cox wins 20% on the second off layoff and 21% in sprints.
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